Small sto­ries, big screen

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Jen­nifer Levin I The New Mex­i­can Michael Abatemarco con­trib­uted to this re­port.

The 2018 Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val

The movie awards sea­son is heat­ing up, and as we hur­tle to­ward Os­car night, we can ex­pect to see more Hol­ly­wood state­ments of sol­i­dar­ity with the #MeToo move­ment and the Time’s Up Le­gal De­fense Fund. But a per­va­sive cul­ture of sex­ism also stymies women work­ing be­hind the cam­era. Ac­cord­ing to San Diego State’s Cen­ter for the Study of Women in Tele­vi­sion and Film, just 7 per­cent of all di­rec­tors work­ing on the top 250 do­mes­tic gross­ing films in 2016 were women. (Over­all, women held only 17 per­cent of all writ­ing, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, pro­ducer, ed­i­tor, and cin­e­matog­ra­pher jobs in 2016.) But top-gross­ing films are not the only movies be­ing made — or the only movies worth see­ing. Small, in­de­pen­dent projects made by women and oth­ers who can­not al­ways find tra­di­tional out­lets for their work are the lifeblood of film fes­ti­vals, where au­di­ences can view movies from around the world that might never make it to a mul­ti­plex screen.

Or­ga­niz­ers of this year’s Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val, which con­tin­ues through Sun­day, Feb. 11, did not plan the fes­ti­val’s fo­cus on women in film to fit in with #MeToo. “When I got to­gether with Nani Rivera, the chair of the fes­ti­val board, to talk about what we wanted to do this year, she said she wanted to work with the New Mex­ico Women in Film or­ga­ni­za­tion and show more films with fe­male di­rec­tors and ac­tors,” said Aaron Levent­man, the fes­ti­val’s pro­gram­mer. “It turned into the per­fect op­por­tu­nity.”

Chris­tine McHugh, pres­i­dent of New Mex­ico Women in Film, said, “This is a re­ally im­por­tant time. All of the high-pro­file po­si­tions that women are able to take now — speak­ing loudly against a cul­ture of sex­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion, of ha­rass­ment, of gen­eral dis­re­spect — I think this is the time for women in the New Mex­ico film in­dus­try to get re­ally loud about it.”

There are numer­ous pan­els of­fered on women in the in­dus­try, begin­ning with Women of a Cer­tain Age in Film and TV at 4 p.m. on Fri­day, Feb. 9, at Ho­tel Santa Fe. A panel called NM Girls Make Movies takes place at 11:30 a.m. Satur­day, Feb. 10, at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, and the Ac­tivism: Women in the Field panel is 1 p.m. on Sun­day, Feb. 11, at Ho­tel Santa Fe. Fes­ti­val films di­rected by women in­clude

Snapshots, di­rected by Melanie May­ron, and Axis, di­rected by Aisha Tyler, both of whom will be present for Q&As at their re­spec­tive screen­ings.

The fes­ti­val, which is usu­ally held in De­cem­ber, was pushed back to Fe­bru­ary this year to co­in­cide with New Mex­ico Film Week, Feb. 6 through Mon­day, Feb. 12, or­ga­nized by Shoot New Mex­ico. Film Week is a col­lab­o­ra­tive mar­ket­ing ef­fort by or­ga­ni­za­tions as­so­ci­ated with the lo­cal film in­dus­try. The week in­cludes New Mex­ico Film and Me­dia Day on Feb. 12 — a day of ac­tion and in­for­ma­tion at the New Mex­ico State Leg­is­la­ture, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Another com­po­nent of Film Week is a wealth of train­ing events, known as Tune Up, that are co­or­di­nated through the film fes­ti­val and sponsored by the In­ter­na­tional Al­liance of The­atri­cal Stage Em­ploy­ees (IATSE) Lo­cal 480. There are work­shops on ev­ery­thing from OSHA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to sound de­sign, en­ter­tain­ment law to cast­ing.

The Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val strug­gled fi­nan­cially for a few years af­ter the re­ces­sion, but re­turned for a full fes­ti­val in 2015. That year, the fes­ti­val re­ceived a $40,000 check is­sued in er­ror by the New Mex­ico Tourism Depart­ment. The money was ac­tu­ally in re­sponse to a grant ap­pli­ca­tion from the Santa Fe In­de­pen­dent Film Fes­ti­val. Rivera and Jon Hendry, pres­i­dent of the New Mex­ico Fed­er­a­tion of La­bor and busi­ness agent for IATSE Lo­cal 480, told Pasatiempo that though they did not an­tic­i­pate re­ceiv­ing these funds, the check was made out to the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val and in­cluded their busi­ness in­for­ma­tion, so they de­posited the check. Later, how­ever, the state in­formed or­ga­niz­ers of the er­ror and be­gan mak­ing plans to re­coup the money, which the fes­ti­val had al­ready spent. The Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment with the state to re­pay the money through ad­ver­tis­ing and spon­sor­ships in 2016 and 2017. Be­cause the fes­ti­val was not held in De­cem­ber 2017, the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val “failed to com­ply with the full terms of their spon­sor­ship agree­ment with the New Mex­ico Tourism Depart­ment,” said Bai­ley N. Grif­fith, di­rec­tor of pub­lic in­for­ma­tion and pol­icy for the Tourism Depart­ment, in a pre­pared state­ment. Grif­fith con­firmed via tele­phone that the check was in­cor­rectly is­sued with the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val’s busi­ness in­for­ma­tion.

Hendry said the fes­ti­val had in­formed the state that they were mov­ing the event from De­cem­ber 2017 to Fe­bru­ary 2018, along with the rea­sons for the move. “The Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val will con­tinue to pro­mote New Mex­ico True in their ma­te­ri­als un­til the state feels the funds have been re­couped.”

In gen­eral, there is a work­ing-class vibe to the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val and the New Mex­ico film in­dus­try it­self, where gaffers, key grips, hair­styl­ists, and script su­per­vi­sors are as vi­tal to the lo­cal econ­omy as di­rec­tors, pro­duc­ers, and stars. The fes­ti­val’s movies tend to fo­cus more on story than over-thetop style. Levent­man said he grav­i­tates to voices that are not likely to find an out­let in Hol­ly­wood, se­lect­ing the doc­u­men­tary If I Was a Fa­mous Artist as a prime ex­am­ple of this qual­ity. That movie — show­ing at 11 a.m. Sun­day, Feb. 11, at CCA — is di­rected by Rich Rick­aby, a film­maker and per­for­mance artist who has been mak­ing un­der­ground films for over 30 years. “He’s a lit­tle like John Wa­ters, but his films make no money. They are barely seen,” Levent­man said. “No­body knows who he is. He ques­tions whether his life would be dif­fer­ent if he was well known. Would he make as much art then? I wanted to give voice to that be­cause there are a lot of artists in Santa Fe who do their work be­cause they love it, re­gard­less of whether they get recog­ni­tion for it.”

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